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THE VAN JONES SHOW
Van Jones Talks About Redacted Mueller Report, Columbine Massacre, Border Crisis, Immigration, Climate Change; Jones Talks with Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA); Van Jones Talks Kim Kardashian West. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 20, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Good evening. Good evening, good evening. I'm Van Jones. Welcome to "The Van Jones Show". We are coming to you tonight from Los Angeles, California, and we've got two pretty important California residents in the studio with us tonight. One happens to be the Governor of the State. My friend Gavin Newsom is here tonight. Oh, my god, we've got the Governor.
We also got one of the biggest celebrities in the state, in the country, on planet Earth, you may have heard of her Kim Kardashian West is also in the house tonight on "The Van Jones Show". So much to talk to them about.
But first let's talk. This week the Mueller redacted report was finally released, but instead of closure guys, the report actually opened up another round of outrage and exasperation and division in the country.
Far from exonerating Trump, Mueller practically invited Congress to step in and do something. And now some Republicans want retaliatory investigations to go after the other side. So we are off to the races again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): I believe impeachable offenses have been committed.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): No new indictments, no sealed indictments, no collusion, no obstruction.
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It's a complete and total exoneration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This report does not vindicate President in any way. It turns your stomach.
NICOLLE WALLACE, ANCHOR MSNBC: Is Sarah Sanders smearing Jim Comey from the podium.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm sorry that I wasn't a robot like the Democrat Party that went out for two and a half years and stated time and time again that there was definitely Russian collusion between the President and his campaign. REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Attorney General Barr should resign. He can join the President's legal team if he wants, but that's what he's doing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: If Attorney General Bill Barr had wrapped up this process in a neutral professional way then maybe, just maybe, we could have come together as a country to confront Russia's ongoing attack on our democracy. Slim chance -- I know, it could have happened.
But by acting more like Trump's personal attorney, than the Attorney General of the United States, Barr, has made any kind of national unity even harder. And you know who's got to be thrilled? Vladimir Putin. He wanted to see America divided, weakened and tearing itself apart, and that's exactly what he is getting.
Still more partisanship, more confusion, more division and it looks like we're going to be stuck in this situation for a very long time, and that kind of stagnation, sadly, is becoming the new normal in America. We are paralyzed on major issues.
For instance, today marks the 20th Anniversary of the Columbine Massacre. 20 years since two gunmen shot and killed 12 students and a teacher in a school. Now that was supposed to be the tipping point that united -- shocked nation to do something about guns and school safety.
Now here we are 20 years later, what's changed? Not enough. And sadly the biggest difference we have now is more victims and sometimes less outrage, because we're almost used to these kind of attacks now.
Same thing with immigration. We have needed meaningful reform for decades and nothing, nothing. So we've got this ugly partisan battle now about how to treat thousands of people coming to our country for a better life. And Trump is snatching babies from their mothers at the border.
Same thing with climate, how long have we been talking about climate disruption? And how many unprecedented floods and fires and hurricanes that we lived through even recently and what's been done? Almost nothing.
In fact, at the federal level, we're going backwards. And some people are so frustrated they're protesting in the streets and getting arrested. So as a nation, we are stuck, and I am frustrated, but there is hope, because of the progress that is happening at the state level, especially right here in California.
So let's talk about all of this with the leader of this great state, please welcome to "The Van Jones Show", Governor Gavin Newsom.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): There is hope.
JONES: There is hope.
NEWSOM: There is hope.
JONES: Hey, listen, I know we're going to get into it, but before we get into that, this whole Mueller thing, how do you think about this?
NEWSOM: Look, I thought you said it well. Forget Rudy Guiliani, who needs someone better than the AG himself as a defense attorney. I mean, that was a remarkable display of preemptive strategy. That is, you know, become normalized. And the challenge is, we can't let it be normalized and I think that's where we have to express the outrage.
[19:05:00] You framed that whole start of the show it's a perfect frame, even on Columbine. What we've accepted as normalized and we can't do that. We're capable of doing so much more and so much better, but only if we have a courage to express that.
NEWSOM: And not allow the normalization of this.
JONES: And that's -- I think, that becomes a big challenge for Democrats. What should be done? I mean some people are saying that Congress should take Mueller's hints and go for with impeachment.
I mean do you think that the impeachment is the right way to go? Should we wait for 18 months? I mean, just how do you think about this?
NEWSOM: Well, you got an election coming up next year at this stage and I think we have more than enough to go on the obstruction charges. I mean those seem fairly overwhelming. I mean, you just read some of those -- I mean one of those charges would be -- it's just jaw- dropping. I mean, the fact that there's a dozen plus. So Congress has plenty to do.
But there also is a lot of work to be done on behalf of the American people that it has not part of this report.
JONES: Do you think Democrats be better off focusing on that and avoiding the impeachment thing or--
NEWSOM: People need to be held to account. This report is an indictment of the current administration and many members of the administration, we need to pursue that. We would not be doing our job. We won't be doing justice or advancing justice without doing.
But you have to do that and focus on the issues of affordability and housing and homelessness, the issue of education and obviously deep issues related to climate change and the like.
JONES: Well, I believe you when you say it, because you do it every day. You've got the biggest -- you've got the fifth biggest economy in the world--
JONES: -- right here in California. 40 million people, dozens of languages spoken. Do you feel like a Governor, or are you actually running your own country out here, it's so big.
NEWSOM: So it is -- I mean, I do feel like it's a nation state. I mean, that's one of the reasons I visited El Salvador last week, because we had the current President elect of El Salvador who campaigned in California.
And you'd say why would a President aspirant -- someone who is aspiring to be President of a foreign country campaign in -- because half the El Salvadoran population in United States is in California. 27% of this state is foreign-born. We are a majority minority state. Truly a universal state.
We're a state of refuge. We're state of asylum. It's a remarkable experiment at scale of people living and advancing together across every conceivable difference. It's a special place. And at our best, not just as Californians, but I'd argue as Americans, we're at our best when we don't tolerate our diversity, but we really celebrate it. And I think in California we do that about as well or better than most. It makes me proud.
Well I think you should be proud. Let me ask you, though, the President sees it somewhat differently. And in fact, you guys have been kind of going back and forth at each other on the question of immigration. I mean, the President said that he's going to let all the people who you want in the country to come into the sanctuary cities in California. Would you welcome that? You love immigrants that much?
NEWSOM: So what is that, I'm trying to figure out? So he campaigns saying he was going to detain people to deport them. And then a week ago he says, no, no we're going to detain people to then send them into the United States into sanctuary cities.
And then the AG, a couple days after that, says no, no, we're going to detain people, but for a longer period of time. I mean, which is it?
NEWSOM: I mean they're flailing. He's just a punch-drunk boxer. He's just sort of throwing punches and jabs. Everything he's done on immigration is an abject failure. Meanwhile, there are states like California that are trying to pick up the pieces, including pick up and lift up people that are being dumped on the streets and sidewalks already in sanctuary cities like San Diego and throughout this state.
Hundreds of legal asylum seekers, their children are being dumped out of bus stops with no place to go. They can end up homeless, in emergency rooms. And you know what, I'm proud of my state. We opened an asylum center to allow people at least the dignity of some stability and some encouragement that this is not who we are as Americans. And we have principles and values that stand up.
JONES: Yes. Beautiful. A lot of people love what you're saying, but we have -- now you're starting to see some cracks so even on the Democratic side. Cher, herself, tweeted. "I understand helping struggling immigrants, but my city Los Angeles, is not taking care of its own. What about the 50,000 citizens who live on the streets and below poverty line? If my state can't take care of its own, including veterans, how can it take on more?"
That's not a right-wing person, that's a liberal progressive Cher--
JONES: -- saying that.
NEWSOM: Who I know and respect and like. And so let me be respectful, but also responsible to that critique and make this argument. California has the nation's largest homeless population, so I understand where that comes from. It's out of control, it's unacceptable and we are working aggressively to address that.
But let me just make this point. I come from San Francisco, and I come from a city whose past is not as proud as its present. I come from a city that advanced the Chinese Exclusion Act.
I remember the exact same language in the late 1800s where a guy named Denis Kearney who would make Donald Trump blush. He's original Donald Trump. That began and ended every speech by saying, whatever else we do, the Chinese must go. We've had enough. They're taking away jobs and they're diminishing your capacity to live your lives.
[19:10:00] This is old rhetoric. The fact is we have a population of -- that actually is getting a little older. We need a population that's reinvigorated and I'll tell you immigrants reinvigorate our society, and these are some of the hardest workers in this country. And interestingly, some of the same people criticizing are net beneficiaries of these same immigrants.
JONES: Listen, I appreciate your passion and you've always been passionate about this stuff. Are you the anti-Trump? I mean, how do you think of your role as a Governor in Trump era.
NEWSOM: I don't wake up every morning trying to find a crowbar to put in the spoke of the wheels of the President of United States to trip him up. But I'll tell you, I'm going to have the backs of our diverse communities -- the attacks, our diversity, attacks people, demeans them and dehumanizes people, I'm going to stand up for them.
I mean, if he attacks our clean air and clean water, I'm going to stand up for clean air and clean water. If he wants to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and increase premiums for millions of millions of Californians, I'm going to stand up against that.
Look, I do govern the most un-Trump state in America, there's no doubt about that. But I also see my role is not just the center of the resistance, but a positive alternative to Trump and Trumpism. And I think in many ways we are we're running a 20-plus billion dollar operating surplus. We are paying off our debt, paying down pension obligations, leading the nation.
I mean, you talk about the green economy. California is leading the world, not just the nation, in low carbon green growth and changing the way we produce and consume energy. We have progressive values that are at play at scale and we're producing real economic results. JONES: Let's talk about them. I one of the first things we ever did together back in 2005, you did the UN World Environment Day, the "Green Cities" --
JONES: -- all that stuff almost 15 years ago, so it's not new to you. But, listen, some of the stuff that California says is going to do -- going to half renewable energy in 12 years.
JONES: OK. Now, look, I'm going to tell you right now that -- you going to have people saying now this makes no sense. How is it easy --
NEWSOM: Well, if you can argue that or you can prove it and we're proving it. We're at 34 percent today renewables. Now, if you consider non-carbon sources, which is hydro and nuclear, we're at 55 percent today. We're not asserting a paradigm. We're proving a paradigm at scale.
And by the way, as we've advanced our carbon goals, we've grown our economy at a faster clip than the United States of America itself. I don't think we can do this. I know we can do this.
The Green New Deal, come to California, you'll see it being advanced at scale. It's a point of pride and principle.
JONES: I've always liked you. When you talk, I start to hear, a little song in the back of my head, "Hail to the Chief" kind of a song. So, again it's -- am I wrong? Did anybody hear that? Anybody else hear that?
JONES: -- it was me.
NEWSOM: Not a chance.
JONES: Talk to me about whether or not you got a White House running your field (ph).
NEWSOM: Oh, no. Literally I'm so proud of the folks coming from California. We got Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. I mean, that's about as good as it gets right now. So I sleep well at night, Adam Schiff from an oversight perspective, Kamala Harris who's ascended. It's just remarkable.
JONES: Why you endorse it -- well, you got 30,000 people running for Democrat, you endorsed Kamala Harris--
NEWSOM: 40. JONES: Well, why did you endorse Kamala Harris?
NEWSOM: Because I've known her for 25 years. I worked with her when she was a DA and I was Mayor, when she was Attorney General, I was Lieutenant Governor, when she became U.S. Senator and I'm Governor.
I've seen her firsthand. I seen her mature and grow. I know her character. I know her conviction. I know her capacity. She's the real deal. Look out. She's -- the reason she's where she is, as quickly she is, because she deserves to be there.
JONES: Well, do you think we got too many candidates? I mean we got so many people running, doesn't that advantage maybe a Bernie Sanders that already got a baked in thing.
NEWSOM: You know what, there was five or six years ago people said, the Democratic Party has no leadership, well, there's no bench. Boy, we're proving that wrong.
Remember, I come from California. This is a state where the Republican Party was the dominant party in the 1990s. Their third party status today, one reason the xenophobia, the nativism--
JONES: It killed them.
NEWSOM: -- the politics of fear and anger and grievance, it's the same politics being spewed by the President of United States. Republican Party, pay attention, he's walking you off a cliff.
JONES: Awesome. Well, listen, coming up, we got a lot more to talk about with Governor Newsome, including his major move to put a stop to the death penalty in California. Why did he do it, and how does he respond to the backlash coming from President Trump and bunch of other people, that's next when we get back.
[19:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: All right. Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show". I'm here with California Governor, Gavin Newsom. You know, it is so unreal and surreal for me to be here with you. You're the Governor of a State. I got a national television show, that's not where we started out. Tell us story of how we meet and got noticed--
NEWSOM: This guy protested my first meeting as Mayor. I was there having a Department Head meeting. All of a sudden, the door opens and then Van starts showing up, chanting and screaming and talking about police abuse and police reform, and what was -- I said, "Man, I just got here".
And then two months later --
NEWSOM: -- we're hanging out at some interesting conference and then we hit it off, not just on that issue, but as you were saying in the previous segment, on the environment. You started stepping up for the Environmental Justice Community. You asserted yourself. And it is crazy look at you--
JONES: Let me--
NEWSOM: -- protesting me.
JONES: Well, you know, we had something to say, man. Bu the reason that we actually began to just fall in love with you was when you started issuing those marriage certificates--
JONES: -- against everybody's better judgment, and everybody's critique of you. You started giving out those marriage certificates and that began -- and that changed history.
Governor Newsom recently made another bold move. He issued a moratorium on the death penalty here in California. The issue of ending capital punishment is being debated in both parties. I put together this explainer to break it down. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: More than 2,700 lives hang in the balance on death row in federal and state prisons. Repealing the death penalty is now a hot- button issue for Democrats on the campaign trail.
BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to do everything in my power to ensure that we abolish the death penalty.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We would be a fairer and safer country when we join the ranks of modern nations that have abolished the death penalty.
JONES: But until recently many of the most high profile Democrats actually supported capital punishment.
BILL CLINTON, 42ND U.S. PRESIDENT: I've been a consistent supporter of capital punishment for 15 years.
[19:20:00] BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances.
JONES: But public support for the death penalty has dropped since its peak back in 1990s and politicians in both parties are rethinking their positions. Opponents of the death penalty argue that the U.S. criminal justice system is just too flawed to enforce it fairly.
They point out more than a 160 people, since 1973, have been exonerated and released from death row because they were wrongly convicted. There are also sentencing disparities. Washington State Supreme Court deemed the death penalty unconstitutional last year, finding it had been imposed in an arbitrarily and racially biased manner.
It's also a big burden on taxpayers. Capital punishment cases cost states more money to prosecute. Nearly all Western democracies have outlawed the death penalty.
Meanwhile, we're still in league on this issue with countries like Iran, Somalia and North Korea. But a movement toward repeal is actually finding traction at the state level. 20 states, plus the District of Columbia, have now outlawed the death penalty. A number of other states have temporary bans, either because of court rulings or actions from lawmakers.
But not everybody is on board. In fact, President Trump has suggested he wants to expand the death penalty.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we don't get tough on the drug dealers, we're wasting our time, and that toughness includes the death penalty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Why did you do this? Why did you decide as a Governor that you were going to, on your own, dismantle the death row chamber in the state? Why take a position like that?
NEWSOM: We have the largest death row in the Western Hemisphere.
JONES: In California?
NEWSOM: California. 737 human beings are on death row. Many of them, we know, are wrongfully convicted, we don't know which ones. Someone last year in California who served close to 26 years was wrongfully convicted and exonerated. And by some estimates, conservatively, one out of every 25 people on death row, which means over 30 people in California's death row, are likely wrongfully convicted.
Now the question for me is not an abstract one as a Governor. I have to sign off my signature on the premeditated execution of an individual. At the same time I'm telling my daughter, it's wrong to kill. I can't in good conscience do that, particularly with the predicate that you laid out in that piece.
Our criminal justice system, and it's been said by others more eloquently than I'll say it. But the bottom line and I believe this is the core of my soul, we have a criminal justice system that simply does treat people that are rich and guilty better than we treat people that are poor and innocent.
It's not only racially biased, it's economically biased, its wealth biased. And until we address those fundamental flaws in that system of justice, I cannot and that with the ultimate.
JONES: If you guys were sitting next to the Governor there -- you're passionate man, there's an energy coming off of you. I like you, though, I try to have empathy for people on all sides.
JONES: And you got people now, family members of murder victims, who feel like you just ripped the scab off for them. NEWSOM: That's right.
JONES: And you have reopened wounds and you have hurt them. They had some closure as much as I could get and you completely through that in a garbage can.
JONES: What do you say to those family members who are suffering more now and they look at you.
NEWSOM: I've said it to them directly. Before I did this I met with the victims. I met with Polly Klaas' father. He was very critical publicly, and trust me, I'll never forget the words he told me privately. Said my job was to eradicate evil.
I also met with victims -- so Van, that felt very differently. I met with a mother who lost her teenage daughter. And she said, if you execute the person that did this who was on death row, you won't be doing this for the family, you'll be doing it to my family. And she said to me, I'll never forget it, she says, you do not have the right to take the life of that individual using my daughter's name.
And so this splits both ways. It's intensely emotional and I'm with you. You have to be empathetic. It's a moral position for me. I can't sleep at night executing another human being and I can't.
Look, we're one of the few nations left in the world that still executes its citizens. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, North Korea. I mean what kind of country are we? We're better than that. And I think it's time to end the death penalty in this country and I think we'll be better off and safer as a consequence of doing it.
JONES: Aren't you, in some ways, by going against tradition -- you went against tradition on marriage equality, against tradition on the laws and all the established norms on the death penalty, aren't you a little bit like Donald Trump? Isn't that -- aren't you mad at Donald Trump for flouting traditions and going against the norms and the institutions. Aren't you a little Trump in this?
[19:25:00] NEWSOM: Well, I don't mind people that are disruptive -- I don't mind people are willing to sort of scratch the record player that are circulating or are not linear in their thinking. I do care deeply about the rule of law. I had the right of a reprieve.
I had the right as Mayor to challenge the laws. And when the Supreme Court of California said, stop the marriage certificates, we stopped. We did not obstruct justice and we do not get in the way of that due process. And I think that fundamentally is where that example does not align with our example.
But that said, look, I think people want some audacity, they want conviction. They desperately want authenticity. They want folks, however, though, that are empathetic to others that have a capacity of understanding and see the world from a different set of eyes. And with all due respect, there's no moral authority emanating from
the White House in the United States of America today. There's only one thing formal Authority but here's the good news for folks that are concerned about it. The more you exercise your formal authority, the less you have of it.
The more you exercise your moral authority, the more abundant it becomes and all of us have the capacity to exercise our moral authority. You don't need to be something to do something to change the world. We need leaders and they can be found anywhere.
JONES: Well -- hey, listen, I'll you what. I couldn't be prouder to know you. I couldn't be prouder to have watched your climb. And I would tell you, one of the things I know about you for sure is you aren't doing this for any other reason than your beliefs. I watched you test it. I watched you test it at the local level all the way up, and I appreciate your willing to take a stand for what you believe in.
Coming up somebody else is taking a stand for what she believes in, Kim Kardashian West in the building. We got a bunch to discuss with her. She's on a path to a new career to become a lawyer. We're going to talk about that and so much more when we get back. Thank you.
[19:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show". You probably know my next guest is a reality star, as a fashion, beauty Moghul, as a massive cultural influencer. But I know her as a criminal justice warrior, who uses her celebrity to help change policy and lives.
I'm so excited to talk with her about all of that and more please welcome back to the Van Jones Show my friend Kim Kardashian West. The big news about you Kim Kardashian West wants to become a lawyer.
KIM KARDASHIAN WEST, AMERICAN MEDIA PERSONALITY: Yes.
JONES: That's, a good thing.
WEST: Well, you know, a lot of it is thanks to you, because you introduced me to the attorneys Jessica and Erin that I have been working with weekly, seeing 18 hours a week, studying with, pretty much crying with, it's a lot of hard work.
JONES: Why are you doing this? People are just so surprised to hear it. Talk about the reason.
WEST: Yes. Well, when I did go to the White House and when I learned so much about the system and what is going on deep into the system, I was honestly so surprised. I really had no idea how broken the system is, and I just figured, if I know more about the system, I can do more for the system and that's just the type of person that I am. It really interests me. It's completely taken over my life.
JONES: Yes. And what does this family think about this? I mean is Kanye mad? I mean is this like taking you away from-- WEST: He might be mad, because on my weekends I just need to study. During the week at night, there's a lot of time where I'm just like baby you have to take the kids. And he's -- honestly, he's really stepped it up and I'm so grateful for him for doing that.
Because we made this decision together as a family, where I said you know what, "I have my full time filming job. I have my beauty business. I work full-time and I'm going to take on another 18 hours a week, that's required" And I think honestly, when I saw the response from people, some people just didn't really understand how it works right.
WEST: And I think people assume that I'm just prepping for the Bar, and not actually studying or going to school --
JONES: Because people don't understand, you're not going through a regular law school, you're actually apprenticing, basically going back to the old school way of doing it.
JONES: Apprenticing yourself, studying, working with the real lawyer on a regular basis to be ready to take the Bar exam.
WEST: Yes. You have all the same textbooks that you would in law school, all of the same assignments, except for you have more tests, you have a test a month. And it you know you don't have a teacher they're explaining to you it, so I have to watch lectures online. You really have to kind of figure it out yourself with them guiding you and really step up and do it.
JONES: What's your response to people who say, but you're just taking a shortcut. You should just go to law school like everybody else. Why not do it that way?
WEST: Well it's really not a shortcut. Anyone that thinks this is a form of privilege or because I have money, they assume that this is the easy way out. But this is actually a system that was provided for the complete opposite, to be accessible to people that actually don't have the means.
JONES: You do have -- you had very interesting reactions. You have some people who will say go get them. It's great to see a young woman stepping forward and doing this. There are other people go, "I don't really see how you could be a lawyer".
WEST: Well, I didn't really see -- I either saw like super positive or even 10 times worse than "Ah". It was like either or. And I think you know what, it's like, I've always been super supportive of women and people around me that have wanted to succeed and I don't really have the energy for the "Ah".
Like, I think, you can do whatever you want to do if you put your mind to it. It is so hard. It's not an easy thing to do. And just start supporting people. If someone wants to do something positive, just -- what does it bother you?
JONES: Yes, yes. We hear about.
WEST: Just be supportive.
[19:35:00] JONES: One other thing that I was curious about is your sisters' reactions. Is there going to be like a Kardashian competition? Are they going to become like engineers and like one's going to be like a rocket scientist?
WEST: I wish.
So is it going to be like some whole new Kardashian thing?
WEST: I wish. They're really smart. They should. But, no, it's been a lot of group family chats of, "Oh, this happened Kim, what do you think, what should we do? Or my cousin slipped and I'm like, OK wait a minute, so the landlord has a duty to make sure that the floors are clean after rain and you sue". And so a lot of it is--
JONES: It's awesome.
WEST: -- family advice. It's really funny.
JONES: You come by this -- honestly people forget, your father was a lawyer and not just a lawyer, one of the best lawyers in the country. Talk about the impact of growing up with your dad as an attorney, on your thoughts about a legal career.
WEST: Yes, I've always been -- it's really interesting also that I chose to be -- start this apprenticeship with social justice attorneys. I mean I could have gone in the entertainment field. You could do it in any field that you really want to.
And so I chose this because I saw my dad's passion to do the right thing and to just -- he would always want to help people and I just was so intrigued and so into it. And it's -- I wish my dad was here to see it. He would be totally rooting me on.
WEST: And it's just it's in me. It's what I love to do. And I think no matter what it is in life, if you just -- I also love to do makeup, I also love to do fragrance. There -- it's like, I don't want to be put in a box that you only have to do this, because this is what people think of you.
I saw a comment where someone said, "You need to stay in your lane. You can have ambitions but don't be too ambitious". And to me that was that kind of like, "Shut up and dribble" comment to where it really -- I read it to my husband in bed. And I was just like, this will even push me harder.
WEST: So-- JONES: There is this thing happening, though, in this town where people getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar, trying to use their privilege to get into schools, putting money on the table, doing all kind of dirt.
I mean somebody in your position -- I mean how do you think about that? How do -- you have so much access? How do you use it to help your kids, but not abuse it? Have you had that conversation about all this nonsense going on where people are buying their way in the schools and--
WEST: Yes. I mean, I think as a parent you have to let your kid -- like for me, I would never, if they couldn't get into a school, I would never want to use privilege to try to force them into a situation that they wouldn't thrive in anyway. So that's where I just see that that is not appropriate.
It's just when you have so much accessible -- so many things that are just presented to you, I just -- I want my kids to be kind, I want them to be as grounded as possible. And to buy your way into something, just wouldn't benefit anybody.
JONES: Yes, yes.
WEST: And I think working hard -- and to me, even having my kids see me studying, leaving and going into an office a few days a week, studying all the time, coming home. I have my backpack. They have their backpack.
They're studying, I'm studying and them seeing that I have this filming career and I'm having makeup samples tested all over my arm, while I'm you know trying to read my flashcards and all of this stuff. I hope that they get inspired to know that they can put in the hard work.
And even though I'm in my late 30s and I'm just finishing college or attempting to do that now, it's never too late and there really is no easy way out. I've always worked hard and I hope that my kids see that work ethic and want to do the same thing.
JONES: That they will. Well, coming up. Kim, they love that. I love it too. Anyway Kim broke the internet again last year when she went to the White House, met with President Trump. I got questions. Does she still talk to Trump? What advice does she have for 2020 candidates, so many things -- so many things, when we get back -- when we get back.
[19:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: All right. Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show". I am here with Kim Kardashian West. We've gotten a chance to work together this past year, plus now on criminal justice reform. We were in the Trump White House together, in the Oval Office together, talking to him. Talk to us a little bit about what you have learned over this past year?
WEST: Everything. Everything about criminal justice. I knew nothing. And I saw something on social media that's changed my heart, changed my life with Ms. Alice Johnson. Everyone has a voice and I learned so much about just what -- even I had no idea what clemency was. I had no idea what the difference between state and federal prison. I mean I knew nothing. I've literally learned so much about the system and what's going on in the past year.
JONES: You tried to help Matthew Charles, first person to come home from the FIRST STEP Act, which we work so hard to pass. This guy comes home from prison. He's been praised by the President of United States. He can't get a house, he can't rent an apartment.
Talk about the challenges of people coming home from prison and why did you step up and try to help Matthew Charles?
WEST: Yes. So I've learned so much about this, especially from Scott Budnick who runs the foundation out here that specializes, that's like his passion of getting people home and providing jobs and housing.
And so I remember I brought Matthew Charles to the President and we talked about him. Matthew was the first person to get out on the FIRST STEP Act and to hear that he had all of this support and he could not get a place to stay--
JONES: Because he's a convicted "Felon"
JONES: So therefore nobody wants to rent to you.
WEST: And even I stepped up and I said, OK, let me -- let's figure out how to get you a place. And he wasn't sure job wise where he was going to be, so we just wanted to rent, so that was such a hard process.
[19:45:00] And so I wasn't even going to tweet about it. But because he couldn't get housing, I said you know what, "I'm going to tweet about this and I guarantee you people that don't know that live in his city are going to be made aware of the situation". And the city rallied so heavy behind him.
And that is the power of social media. That is the beauty of it. And that's the good parts of it. And it made me so proud that so many people stepped up.
JONES: Yes. I mean, it's amazing that you're willing to do that, and you get criticized for trying.
JONES: And when you went to the Trump White House a couple of times, even though you came out with people who have been freed, you still got criticized. What about the legitimate part of the criticism, though, that says, "Hey Trump is snatching babies from their mom at the border". How do you come to peace with working with an administration that has some really real negative human rights check marks on them balance sheet.
WEST: Yes. Well people do write me, I think, every time there is an issue going on in the White House, which is pretty often, I think, that people -- I see on to what are people writing me all the time, "Kim do something, do this do that".
And I have been very honest with the administration. I've been very honest with everyone from Jared and Ivanka, to everyone in the White House about how I feel about immigration, in particular. And we've had the conversations.
I mean the reality is, I can't do everything. I'm not in that position. And if I can change people's lives in a different area, I have to focus on that. And I have definitely voiced my opinion on other things and requested things in other areas, but--
JONES: -- have been or be as effective there.
JONES: Do you still talk to Trump?
WEST: I do have a relationship with the White House. And we're still working on a lot of -- hopefully, more clemencies, and there's a lot more that we're working on. And I'm definitely not one that's afraid.
I know, I got so many times people would say to me, "Don't go to the White House, your career will be over. Don't go there". And I just kind of weighed the decision where it was like a life to save a life or to get maybe bad tweets about me or a bad news story for a few days. I guarantee you that people sitting behind bars not care who the President is. They just want that relief. And so if I could have done that, I don't care.
JONES: Speaking of the White House, we got an election coming up and I'm just curious, is there anybody in the Democratic -- we got, I don't know, 4,000 people running. So you know --
WEST: Yes, there's way too many people, its way too early. I'm just focusing on -- I have a new baby coming in three weeks.
WEST: Stop going on -- I'm going to wait till its further along--
WEST: -- before I make a decrease.
JONES: Speaking of babies, four babies. You're going to have four--
WEST: I know--
JONES: -- small people and this been like you--
WEST: Four babies under five.
WEST: Yes, why?
WEST: My babies are so cute and so sweet, I -- honestly it's my favorite thing to do in the world is just -- only except for last night. Kanye is out of town and my son was in bed with me and I've pretty big bed and I was pretty much on the floor in the middle of the night. Yes, they move all around.
But, no, I love being a mom. I have such a big family myself and I couldn't imagine life without my siblings. And so I really want my kids to have that support system, because I found in my life it's been how I get by in life, so I really wanted that for my kids.
WEST: I think I'm done after this, though, done.
JONES: That's good. You have such creative names. Any names coming up?
WEST: I was just telling my best friend Jonathan a few of our name choices. I'll tell you in the back. Yes, it's such pressure. There's a few names. There's two names that I like.
JONES: You're just teasing us. This is terrible. Yes, well, just tell us one of the two.
JONES: OK. OK. Well, I just want to thank you so much for your heart and who you are. Give Kim Kardashian West --
I have this documentary series that we're going to talk about when we get back. You know, coming up imagine that the person closest to you was to be murdered. And now imagine coming face-to-face with their killer. How would you react, what would you say to them?
Well, I was in the room when a mother sat down and spoke with the man convicted of killing her son, more about that when we get back.
[19:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Have you ever done something that you truly, truly regret? Is there anybody ever done something you that you find it hard to forgive? Well, congratulations, that means you are a human being.
Everybody makes mistakes, everybody needs second chances. But in recent years, to me, it seems like values like empathy and forgiveness and compassion have just left the culture altogether.
But today it's all about callout culture and cancel culture. We're blocking friends on social media. We're happy to be the 4,000th person to retweet something negative about somebody, and it's poisoning our politics, our friendships, our society, our souls.
And so I'm excited to bring to you a documentary series that goes a 180 degrees in the opposite direction. It's called "The Redemption Project". It debuts next Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
In each episode I talk to somebody who has done something who has done something truly terrible and wants to make amends. I talk to the victim or, all too often, the surviving family members. And we film those two parties talking to each other face-to-face for the first time, trying to find some kind of answer. Here is a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: What's the worst thing that could happen in this meeting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That he isn't accountable and continues to deny what he's done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think that Terry (ph) definitely has some anger towards me. I mean, her son is gone, and I'm here. She's probably thinking, why couldn't it have been you and not my son?
I'm scared to go through that door. But I'm going to do it. Whatever happens, happens.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a lot of emotions going through me when i think about this. But I'm fearful of how it's going to play out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: This is not reality TV, it's real. Nothing is staged or manipulated. It's not true crime. It's about the truth long after the crime, because even decades later, the parties involved often still have not healed.
And I want to use media to try to heal old hurts, to rebuild broken bridges. We try to do that here on "The Van Jones Show", so keep checking us here. But also check out "The Redemption Project" Sundays next week at 9:00 p.m., starting next week.
I'm Van Jones. Peace and love to one another.
[19:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)